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From Darwin to Big Data with Richard Dawkins

Cultural discussion programme. Andrew Marr discusses science literacy and numeracy with Richard Dawkins, Deborah Kelemen, Cathy O'Neil and Alex Bellos.

On Start the Week Andrew Marr asks whether scientists have failed in their task to communicate their work to the wider public. The 'passionate rationalist' Richard Dawkins has spent his career trying to illuminate the wonders of nature and challenge what he calls faulty logic. But he wonders whether Darwin would consider his legacy now with 'a mixture of exhilaration and exasperation'. The child psychologist Deborah Kelemen has been working with young children to find out what they make of adaptation and evolution with the storybook, How the Piloses Evolved Skinny Noses, and is encouraged by the sophistication of their understanding. The mathematician Cathy O'Neil says it's time people became more aware of the mathematical models and algorithms that dominate everything we do online and in finance, and yet are increasingly opaque, unregulated and left unchallenged. While Alex Bellos looks to improve numeracy with puzzles and brainteasers which have been entertaining and frustrating people for centuries.
Producer: Katy Hickman.

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43 minutes

Last on

Mon 3 Jul 2017 21:30

Cathy O'Neil

Cathy O'Neil is a data scientist and author of the popular blog MathBabe. 

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy
out in paperback on 6th July.

Alex Bellos

Alex Bellos studied Mathematics and Philosophy at Oxford University. He became a journalist and ended up as the Guardian’s South American correspondent in Rio de Janeiro. He writes a popular maths blog and a puzzle blog for the Guardian. He presently divides his time between science popularization and writing about Brazilian football.

Can You Solve My Problems?: A Casebook of Ingenious, Perplexing and Totally Satisfying Puzzles
published in paperback 6th July.


Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins was the first Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He is a fellow of New College, Oxford.

His latest anthology, Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist was published on 7th June 2017.

Deborah Keleman

Professor Deborah Kelemen is a cognitive developmental psychologist and the director of the Child Cognition Laboratory at Boston University and the Developmental Science Program Director.

How the Piloses Evolved Skinny Noses was published on 1st June 2017.


Role Contributor
Presenter Helen Lewis
Interviewed Guest Richard Dawkins
Interviewed Guest Deborah Kelemen
Interviewed Guest Cathy O'Neil
Interviewed Guest Alex Bellos
Editor Peter Mulligan


  • Mon 3 Jul 2017 09:00
  • Mon 3 Jul 2017 21:30